11 CH11: A personal touch to the gathering

    "Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us

    Life is so endlessly delicious."

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    - Ruth Reichl


    It was the festive month for the people in the country. The town where Delilah lived in was covered with festive lights and colourful canopy of lanterns. Every buildings in town were also decorated at its fullest, making the town looked more joyful and vibrant.

    The Kang Company was no exception. In the lobby itself, festive banners, wall decorations and ceiling decorations filled the room. Paper lanterns and ornamental papers decorated the ceilings, giving the image of light-filled Arabic night.

    Then, on the second floor where the HR department was located, the door was decorated with green packets in different design covers. Streamers were placed at the top of the door with paper flowers all over. Moon crescent and star papers decorated all over the wall, in different colours. It gave the room a picturesque vibe.

    At the cubicle area, one could see a dark-haired woman hard at work, oblivious to the bustling group of people behind her.

    Her eyebrows furrowed in concentration as she listed out her to-do list for the next HR get together, in conjunction of the festive month.

    Aubree, who just arrived at Delilah's cubicle, leaned closer, trying to take a glimpse of what Delilah was writing.

    "Need any help?" she asked.

    Delilah looked up at the friendly face of Aubree and shook her head. "I'm good."

    Aubree grabbed an empty seat beside Delilah and sat down. The empty seat that she took was Firah's, who hasn't arrived at the office yet. "So, everything is okay? Food? Deco?" she asked.

    Delilah nodded. "Yeah, I already emailed everyone the survey, whether they prefer catering or pot luck," she said. "Most of them voted for potluck. So, seems to be alright. All that's left is to call the receptionist to book a room for our gathering and decorate the place."

    Aubree's eyes widened in surprise. "Ehhhh...!" she exclaimed. "Potluck?? Aren't we going to have a catering??"

    Delilah spun around in her seat, facing Aubree, her eyes flashing. "Wait, what? Who said that??" she asked in a low tone.

    Aubree scratched her right temple and replied, looking confused, "I remember Howard telling me that he had ordered catering for the gathering."

    Delilah facepalmed. "DEE-mmit," she cursed in a soft voice. "So, this is where the budget went. I was wondering how come our budget for the gathering was so low."

    Aubree bit her lip, feeling guilty. She really have thought that Delilah knew about Howard's plan. Aubree did not expect that Howard would left Delilah out of his plans. If she had known this would happened, she would have told Delilah about it.

    Delilah gritted her teeth in anger. "What's the point of asking me to do all this when he is going to do it behind my back?" she retorted.

    Aubree patted Delilah's back. "Just calm down. It will be alright. You just continue what you can do, for now."

    Delilah frowned at Aubree. "Of course, I will. I'm not going to abandon my duties halfway. The others are also looking forward to potluck. If there's too much food, it will be alright. It's better than no food at all. Or not enough food!" She exclaimed, turning back to her list.

    Aubree sighed. She stood up and went to her cubicle, leaving Delilah to her work.


    The day of the gathering.

    Delilah was standing outside the room, where the gathering was about to held. She was waiting for the rest of the staff to invite them in. Everything inside the room has been decorated with streamers, balloons and wall decorations, making the room look more festive. At the middle of the room, several tables were arranged in rows, where foods will be placed.

    Delilah had pretended to not know about the catering, since Howard did not even inform her. Apparently, he had decided to make it as a surprise. He only informed Delilah to leave some space for him, which Delilah had left some tables at the side.

    Though, it did appeared that some employees knew about the catering and had asked Delilah whether the potluck is still on. Delilah told them that it is up to them whether or not they want to have a potluck or not. They could still bring their dishes to the gathering. However, most of them still prefer to have potluck, because having potluck seems more personal and they too wanted to try each others' dishes.

    So, in the end, most of the HR employees brought their own dishes. Delilah had brought her homemade spaghetti, while Firah had brought her mom's bean soup and Aubree had brought her favourite fish curry. Firah and Aubree helped to arranged the foods on the table, while Delilah stood outside, inviting the rest of the employees in.

    Just then, Aubree's phone was ringing. She took it out of her pocket and saw Howard calling her. She walked out of the room to answer the call. As she walked out, going past Delilah, who gave her a questioning look, asking silently, if there was something wrong.

    Aubree shook her head, mouthing, "It's Howard."

    Delilah rolled her eyes and gave a thumbs up in question. Asking whether everything is alright.

    Aubree nodded, giving a thumbs up in return.

    After she ended the call, Aubree walked towards Delilah, who was still standing, waiting for the other employees.

    "Howard just called to tell me to wait for the catering."

    Delilah frowned. "What about him? Where is he?" she asked.

    Aubree sighed. "He said he's going to be late so we can start without him. He also asked me to tell you to give a speech for the gathering."

    Delilah gave her a 'are you kidding me?' look.

    Aubree nodded.

    Delilah cursed him under her breath. "Fine," she said, huffing.

    Aubree patted her on the arm and said, "It will be alright."

    Delilah just nodded and walked in the room, to help with Firah, who was still arranging the foods.

    Inside the room, people were talking amongst themselves, laughing and chatting. There were happy smiles on their faces as they enjoyed the atmosphere in the room, relieved and relaxed after a day's work. Some were at the corner, having a private conversation and some were standing near the table at the centre, talking about who brings what to the gathering. Some of them also asked what are the empty tables on the side are for. Firah just shrugged and told them to ask Delilah or Aubree.

    So, one of them did asked Delilah, who had just walked in the room. Delilah shrugged, since she wanted to pretend that she did not know about the catering.

    Though, they did asked whether it is for the catering. Delilah just shrugged again and said, "Probably."

    One of the women tapped a finger on her chin and said, "Hmmm... Isn't it a waste if its really for catering? I mean, we brought lots of foods already."

    The other woman who stood beside her elbowed on the sides and chuckled. "Well, knowing Howard. He just want his to be special, doesn't he?"

    The two of them giggled.

    Delilah sighed and said, "Well, even if its Howard's doing, lets just enjoy the gathering. Extra foods mean more fun, right?"

    The two women nodded.

    A few minutes later, there were still no sign of Aubree, Howard and the catering. Worried, Delilah texted Aubree, asking where she is.

    Aubree's text came in. "Still waiting for the catering. Seems like they did not know the place and got lost."

    Delilah gave a facepalm emoji and texted again. "So, what shall we do? Continue on."

    Aubree's reply came in. "Yes. Sorry, Delilah."

    Delilah replied back with a 'No problem. Its alright.' She then clapped her hands together, trying to get everyone's attention. She started off by thanking everyone for coming to the gathering. And she continued on by giving her appreciation for the help of everyone to make the gathering possible and how she was grateful with the positive responses from everyone. She ended her short speech by inviting them to enjoy the foods.

    Just as Delilah had finished her speech, a group of people came in, carrying some foods, with Howard and Aubree leading the way in. These group of people quickly gathered around the empty tables on the side and started to arranged the foods one by one. Once they were done, the people who were carrying the foods earlier quickly went out and disappear, leaving Howard and Aubree.

    Howard, with his big smile, said, "Hahaha! Good evening, everyone! Sorry that I was late. Had some problem with the catering. Come, come and enjoy the foods!" He then swept his hand towards the foods behind him.

    Aubree just stood awkwardly beside him, forcing a smile on her face. She knew that people were baffled to see the catering foods are here. And that it was unprofessional of them where the manager themselves were late to the meeting and had someone else takeover their speech at the last minute.

    One of the male employees slapped Howard at the back in a friendly way. "Hey hey, Howard!" he greeted. "I'll check your foods later. I want to take a look at what the others had brought first. I might not get a second chance later." He then gave a wave and walked over to where the potluck foods were arranged.

    The look on Howard's face was of disbelief and awkwardness. He did not expect that his idea would failed. He had thought that most of them would prefer catering over homemade dishes.

    Aubree just sighed in bemusement as she, too, walked over to the potluck area.

    At that time, Delilah was enjoying her foods, where she was eating a bite-sized pizza, brought by one of the employees. Fawkes, one of the employees in the HR departments, was standing beside her, putting more foods on her plate.

    Delilah gave him a small kick on his leg, glaring at him. "Stop putting foods on my plate!" she scolded.

    Fawkes pouted. "But it has meat on it," he said, pointing at the pizza. "Did you forget that I'm a vegetarian?"

    Delilah rolled her eyes. "Then don't eat it!"

    "But I want to eat some pizza!"

    "Eat it or don't eat it, I don't care!"

    Firah, who was standing near to them, watching the two of them interact, laughed. "You two are like cat and dog, everytime you two meet."

    Delilah scoffed. "He is just being too clingy."

    Fawkes frowned at Delilah. "Hey, I am still new here. I don't know anyone here yet. So, I'm sticking with you!" he said.

    "Again, the purpose of this gathering is for everyone to make friends with everyone so go and make friends!" Delilah said, pushing him.

    Fawkes stood still, not budging an inch. "No, I will stay here. I will make friends later."

    Firah just laughed while Delilah just rolled her eyes.

    Fawkes was a tall and lean guy, with a chiselled face and hooded eyes. He has a sharp jawline and a defined chin. In short, he has a strong feature that makes people take a second look. Although, it can also be said that he has a pretty face because of his clean and smooth looks. He was also a smart dresser, looking sharp in his clothes. It was a good thing that he dressed smart as he was one of the faces of the company. In the Human Resource Department, he was actually in the training department, where they will help to conduct or find training classes for every employees in the company.

    In the Human Resource department, there are four sub-departments in it. First, there is the employee relations department, where they are in-charge of the well-being and welfare of the current employees in the company. Second, there is the training department, where they are in-charge of sending the current employees for training. Third, there is the payroll administration department, where they are in-charge of salary, taxes, vacation time and so forth. And fourth, there is the HR management department, where they are in-charge of the recruiting, hiring and firing. As well as background reviews and exit interviews. For Delilah, she is in two of the departments, which are the employee relations and HR management departments, together with Firah. Sometimes, Delilah also dealt with the training department. Hence, that is why Fawkes is also close colleagues with her.

    Ignoring the man beside her, who still kept trying to put more meat onto her plate, Delilah put the whole bite-sized pizza into her mouth. The bite-sized pizza was a meat lover pizza. With its warm pizza base topped generously with melted cheddar and mozzarella cheese and slices of pepperoni and beef sausages, the combination of it all stimulated Delilah's taste buds. Added with little bits of mushrooms in the toppings, it enhanced the flavor of the rich tomato paste and Italian herbs. Every chew she had made, the mixture of all the flavours of the pizza only made it more flavourful and fulfilling.

    Covering her plate with one of her hand, avoiding Fawkes' attempt to put more meats, Delilah closed her eyes in bliss. "This is so good," she exclaimed happily.

    A couple of hours later, the gathering had ended with everyone feeling full. It seemed like everyone had enjoyed the foods that were brought to the gathering. Some even requested to Delilah to make another gathering in the future, similar to this.

    However, not all of the foods were finished. There were some foods left from the catering. To not waste any foods, Aubree had invited some of the employees who were still in the room to bring some home. Firah and Delilah helped in wrapping some foods for them.

    Knowing how hard they have been working since this morning, once all the foods were all wrapped and all that was left was to wait for the caterers to come and retrieve their dirty utensils, Howard offered to stay and wait.

    Thanking Howard for his time and offer, Delilah, Firah and Aubree went home, feeling happy and satisfied.
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